Aga Khan Foundation UK and Aga Khan Museum Toronto in partnership with the Jaipur Literature Festival at Southbank, London
The Aga Khan Foundation, a long term supporter of the main Festival in Jaipur as well as JLF at the Southbank edition, comes on board this year to support three sessions.
Aga Khan Foundation UK and Aga Khan Museum Toronto partners with the Jaipur Literature Festival Southbank, Central London.
Jaipur Literature Festival travels to London for its third consecutive year with a creative caravan of writers and thinkers, poets and balladeers, held at the Southbank Centre. This event – what some have dubbed “the greatest literary show on earth” – brings the unique spirit of the annual Jaipur Literature Festival to London.
Aga Khan Foundation UK’s involvement
The Aga Khan Foundation UK is proud to be supporting three talks. Henry Kim, Director of the Aga Khan Museum, will open the last of these: Princes and Painters in Mughal Delhi. Sessions AKF is supporting include:
•Incarnations: India in 50 lives – Sunil Khilnani in conversation with William Dalrymple
•Reporting India – John Elliott, Dean Nelson, Andrew Whitehead in conversation with Barkha Dutt
•Princes and Painters in Mughal Delhi – William Dalrymple introduced by Nur Sobers Khan presented by the Aga Khan Museum
The Persian Romance of Alexander the Great Wednesday,
May 25, 6:30 pm
Setting out to conquer the Persian Empire in 334 BC, Alexander the Great lamented that no poet would narrate his history and adventures. Yet, more than 1,000 years later, Alexander was re-identified as "Iskandar" by Persia's two greatest epic poets: Firdawsî and Nizâmî. Join historian and professor Michael Barry as he bridges the concepts of art, mysticism, and poetry in this illustrated talk exploring the blending of sober history with heroic tales.
Why did some schools of Islamic and Christian mysticism equate love with madness? Find out in this free lecture at the Aga Khan Museum Toronto
The Madman (“majnun”): Courtly Love in Medieval Islam and Christendom
Sunday, May 29, 2 pm
Some schools of mysticism considered that passionate love could lead to madness. Join celebrated professor and author Michael Barry as he explores love in centuries past and examines the influences of religion on the concept of romance.
The Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr.
Saturday, May 28, 2 pm
Architecture defines cities, neighbourhoods and communities. It provides form for the human experience. Buildings, homes and institutions shape the environment and reflect each society’s cultural values. Although some buildings ultimately become icons, is architecture art? Come find out at this lively discussion between some of Canada's top architects and public art practitioners.
In partnership with the Toronto Society of Architects.
Fans of Game of Thrones or The Jungle Book might want to consider an outing to the Aga Khan Museum. As a new show called Marvellous Creatures: Animals in Islamic Art reminds us, mythical beings and anthropomorphized heroes from the natural world are about as old as humanity itself. Before there were screens to see them on, they inspired artistic expression in almost every genre and culture.
Some 93 different design objects and artworks make up the Marvellous Creatures show, which runs until Sept. 11, 2016. Nearly half of the vibrantly coloured and fanciful ceramics, jewelry, glass, textiles, paintings and manuscripts are on loan from the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.
What unites this disparate collection is that all depict animals, from the tiny blown-glass fish with its mouth comically agape (6th century Egypt), to a fancifully depicted elephant comprised of images of other creatures(6th century India).
These works hang together withmythical creations from early Persian, Arabic, Turkish and Urdu literature such as the winged Al-Buraq — a Pegasus-like creature said to have carried the Prophet Mohammed to the heavenly realm.
Figurative representations of even real animals are never found inside mosques but as curator Filiz Cakir Phillip demonstrates with this exhibition, secular or courtly life in Muslim cultures was abundant with them — and the more fantastical the better.
“There is a richness to the figurative world of Islamic art,” says Cakir Phillip. “As early as the 6th century, it was open to all kinds of information and synergy, and is not as conservative as generally believed. Particularly Iranian culture, which is very fruitful when it comes to animal motifs because of its geographical position in between the Arab countries and China.”
Organized thematically into the four elements of nature — air, water, fire and earth — the show is artfully framed with arched doorways painted in hues suggestive of the essential characteristics of each.
When it came to the classification of a multi-talented creature such as the dragon, however, the curator was first confounded. “A dragon lives in water, but flies in the air and spits out fire,” says Cakir Phillip. She went with fire.
Just as in Aesop’s Fables, “there is a design codification of the qualities that have come to be associated with different animals,” says Cakir Phillip. And indeed the portrayals of such whimsies as unicorns, rainbow-hued simurghs and shape-shifting demons or “divs” alongside brave and regal lions, courtly horses and prolific hares serve to emphasize the particular “gifts” in legend of each.
Standouts include a fantastically green horse (9th century Iran), and an exquisitely filigreed pair of gold earrings, also from Iran, each shaped like a lion.
But the buried treasure of the show is an installation at the end by contemporary Lebanese artist Mohamed-Said Baalbeki, representing a sort of artistic “inquiry” into the nature and existence of Al-Buraq. “Every culture has strong roots in animal fables,” says Cakir Phillip. “It’s through the natural world that we tell our stories. Every single hero has to slay at least one dragon.”
Karen von Hahn is a Toronto-based writer, trend observer and style commentator. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
An Art Museum. A Museum of Light. The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada.
Opened in 2014, it's now one of the most beautiful spaces in Toronto. The architecture is world class. The exhibitions go from interesting to amazing, but for me the stars of the Aga Khan Museum are the building - designed by Fumihiko Maki (Japan) with local assistance as the architect of record from Moriyama and Teshima (Toronto) - and the park with its amazing pools designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic.
When His Highness, the Aga Khan commissioned the design of the museum, he wanted light to play a big part.
"In designing the Aga Khan Museum, Fumihiko Maki, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, used light as his inspiration. He ensured not only that light is ever-present in the building, but that, depending on the time of day or season, light will animate the building in myriad ways: throwing patterns on the exterior walls of Brazilian granite, enhancing interior spaces, or illuminating the open-roofed courtyard.*" And it shows. During my visit on a sunny day, I was able to appreciate the play of light at different times and different areas of the museum. The architectural design absolutely adds to the enjoyment of this museum's experience.
Explore through models and sketches, renderings, large-scale photographs, and video how Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza developed his design for an innovative structure that includes a courtyard, auditorium, and restaurant. Enjoy architectural objects from the Alhambra’s own collection, and understand why the Alhambra has inspired countless artists and architects since the 14th century. Exclusive to the Toronto installation of this exhibition: a selection of ceramic tiles, marble capitals, intricately carved doors, and other original architectural elements from the Alhambra conjure the magnificent detailing of this World Heritage site.
A must-see for those who love architecture and design!
The exhibition is a joint project of Aedes Architecture Forum, Berlin and the Patronato of the Alhambra and Generalife, Granada, in partnership with the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto.
Packed with activities for kids between the ages of 6 and 12, our Summer Camps are offered in four exciting sessions this July and August. Camps run 9 am–4 pm. Extended care hours available 4–6 pm (additional $60). 10% discount for siblings.
Joanna Padovano 2 days agoTop Stories
VANCOUVER: Episodes of Big Bad Boo Studios’s 1001 Nights are slated to screen next month during such events as Summer Camps, Family Sundays and the Cultural Hotspots Festival at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum.
There will be accompanying lesson plans and activities created by Big Bad Boo based on the Arabian Nights-inspired series that are meant to teach young viewers about civic values, critical thinking and more. 1001 Nights, which features such famed characters as Sinbad and Ali Baba, airs in more than 120 countries around the globe. The show is created by Aly Jetha and Shabnam Rezaei. It is currently in production on a third season.
Big Bad Boo’s Shabnam Rezaei commented: “Our episodes and lesson plans have been implemented in schools across the globe and more recently in vulnerable, war- or violence-torn areas, to teach kids about empathy, honesty and tolerance. We are proud to offer these to the Aga Khan Museum, to reach young Canadians via the museum’s excellent cultural programs.”
My good friend Cathy works for the federal Department of Canadian Heritage and has a wide, deep cultural knowledge, so when she suggests a meaningful outing, I'm in for it.
Couldn't have been more timely, our day recently at the Aga Khan Museum, just off the Don Valley Parkway. A serene, tasteful and subtle complex, open only a few months now, it celebrates all things Muslim, built on a choice site in Toronto.
On 17 acres, on a North York hillside with a view of the CN Tower, it is two structures: One is the Museum itself, and the other the Ismaili Centre for Learning. Between the two, elegant, understated buildings are five huge black reflecting pools of water in a welcoming treed park.
It begs the visitor to sit and meditate.
Many cities around the world bid for this centre, which cost $300 million. Toronto was chosen. And for us in Peterborough, it's an easy trip. In fact, our Abraham Festival organizers plan to visit soon.
Funded entirely by the Aga Khan Foundation, it was 12 years in the planning and four years in the building. Admission is $15 ($10 for youth, kids under 6 free).
Its purpose is to show Islamic art, culture and history, all in a mission to increase cross-cultural understanding and dialogue. What could be more needed in the West today?
Those of us from traditionally Christian cultures readily accept divisions, distinctions and difference within the great religions. In Islam, similar differences exist.
The Ismaili group is Shia, and it has about 15 million adherents. Its inherited 49th imam, or spiritual leader, is His Highness the Aga Khan, who lives in Switzerland. He is very wealthy and a great philanthropist, whose foundation supports education, health and micro enterprise projects, mostly in Africa and Asia. At Jamaican Self Help, we were always very impressed with the work and generosity of this foundation.
Islam does not employ and in fact forbids, icons of the divine, so the museum makes use of subtle design, pure materials, and simplicity.
In a gracious dining room called Diwan, the menu has been organized by famous chef Mark McEwan, and features Middle Eastern food.
What drew us especially was a talk by Globe and Mail journalist Doug Saunders on his important book The Myth of the Muslim Tide. It really should be read by all Canadians.
Saunders mused: 'Only in Canada, on a hot summer afternoon, would 350 people gather for a guy named Saunders, introduced by a woman named Stein, to give a talk in a Muslim Centre!"
Careful research has provided Saunders with data showing a troubling gap between what people in different Western countries think is happening with Muslim immigration, and what the facts are. Public perception is wildly wrong. For example, there are 1.2 million Muslims in Canada, out of a population of 36 million people.
In France, the Netherlands and Spain the proportion is 7%. In the UK. 6%. But here are the percentages that people in those countries think the Muslim proportion is: in Britain, 21%, in France 31%, in Italy 20% and in Belgium, 29%.
In the hands of Donald Trump and the Brexit "Leave" politicians, and with so much misperception in the public, "Muslim" has become a term of fear. Facts, not fallacies, are what must guide public policy now, and the attitudes of Canadians.
A treat for us was meeting Saunders, now one of Canada's leading public thinkers, on the very day his insightful column, The Public Meaning of Dallas, was published.
Aga Khan Museum
 77 Wynford Drive, Toronto, M3C 1K1, ON, Canada
Price: Free Place Left: unlimited
How do sound and music inform the lives of Muslims worldwide? From spoken words to the recitation of the Qur’an, from devotional songs to melodic chants, from "adhan" (call to prayer) to vernacular local expressions, profound spirituality is communicated through sounds in daily ritual. The melodic shape may differ, but in most cases, the integrity of the words remains. Join Dr. Karim Gillani (University of Alberta) for a fascinating talk exploring spiritual, cultural, and aesthetic perspectives.
Dr. Karim Gillani obtained his PhD in Music and Religious studies at the University of Alberta, where he now teaches. He is also an accomplished vocalist, composer, and songwriter who has received training in Hindustani classical and Sufi music from various renowned musicians from India and Pakistan. He released his first album titled Jhoom Jhoom: Celebration of A Lifetime in Canada, 2008, and performs various genres of music including Qawwali, Ghazals, Khayal, Kafi, Nashid, and Indo-Pakistani cinema songs. Karim regularly performs in North America and some of his performance highlights include spots on CBC Television, CJSR and CKUA radios.
The Aga Khan Museum is a museum of Islamic art, Iranian (Persian) art and Muslim culture in Toronto, Ontario. The museum is an initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network
It houses collections of Islamic art and heritage, including artefacts from the private collections of His Highness the Aga Khan, the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, and Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan, which showcase the artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions of Muslim civilizations.
WORLD MUSIC SERIES: Fanna-fi-Allah Sufi Qawwali Party
Thursday, August 4, 8 pm
Tickets starting at $45, 10% off for Friends
Our World Music Series continues with music and dance from the Indian subcontinent, ancient Anatolia and present-day Turkey, the Balkans, and West Africa. Discover unexpected connections between diverse musical cultures in these summer performances.
This second co-presentation brings the spotlight on qawwali, a dynamic form of Sufi devotional music from the Indian subcontinent. Featuring Tahir Hussain Faridi on lead vocals and harmonium with an ensemble of talented musicians, Fanna-fi-Allah Sufi Qawwali Party merges heavy rhythmic grooves with passionate vocals that have already captivated audiences from Africa to Europe, Indonesia to the US.
This performance will include a tribute to Amjad Sabri.
Parviz Tanavoli unveils his largest ever work at Toronto’s Aga Khan museum
Iranian artist, who faced a travel ban in July, will also show the biggest Heech sculpture in the show
The leading Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli, who faced a travel ban last month, has unveiled his largest ever sculpture at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. The bronze piece, Horizontal Lovers, is one of three works that will go on show in the grounds of the museum. “Volume-wise, the work is the biggest I have ever made. It is around 13ft high,” Tanavoli says.
Another vast sculpture in the show, Big Heech, made from stainless steel, is part of Tanavoli’s famous Heech series, the Farsi word and symbol for “nothingness”. Tanavoli, 79, made the first manifestation of Heech in 1965, when he painted the calligraphic notation onto a mixed-media work shown at the Borghese Gallery in Tehran.
“This work is around five inches taller than the Heech I made for the Hamline University campus [in Minneapolis] in 1971, except this one is as shiny as a mirror and people can see themselves in it,” he says. Both Big Heech and another bronze sculpture, Poet in Love (2009), are due to go on show next month; all three works will remain on display until April next year.
Toronto's Aga Khan Museum to celebrate Syria's heritage
The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, devoted to the heritage of Muslim civilisations, opens an exhibition on 15 October devoted to the art of Syria.
Syria: A Living History includes around 50 pieces chosen from the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and museums and collections in Berlin, Ontario and Dubai. It includes an eye idol carved around 3,200 BC, a picture by the noted 20th-century painter Fateh Moudarres, and the celebrated Aleppo Room from the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin.
Symbolically, the exhibition also includes a 3,000-year-old prayer stele, excavated by Max von Oppenheim from the ancient city of Tell Halaf. It was seriously damaged in a Second World War bombing raid on his Berlin museum but has recently been restored. As the scale of the destruction of Syrian cities approaches that in wartime Germany, the Aga Khan Foundation has committed $200m to Syrian reconstruction, particularly in Aleppo, where it helped restore the old city’s citadel before the current war.
The curator Filiz Çakır Phillip tells the Art Newspaper: “We are trying to communicate much more than the civil war that’s going on, how rich a cultural history Syria has. One of our major aims is to show the artistic continuity in Syria—we don’t want people to think that because of the war everything has stopped, that there are no artists—so we have included modern and contemporary art.”
Syrian war-and-peace and the attendant humanitarian disaster are in the headlines. 25.000 31,000 Syrians are finding new homes in Canada. In response, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto announces "Syria," opening in October. It looks like a spectacular display, not avoiding current crises but drawing on the rich historical, artistic, and cultural resources of that ancient country. Exhibit, speakers, concerts, films, events -- it's a lavish and ambitious package.
That's exactly the kind of substantial, provocative, engaged programming we should expect our major museums to be launching regularly. Kudos to the Aga Khan for stepping up.
With the war in mind, Aga Khan Museum looks to the history of Syria
As the death toll in Syria continues to rise and with no end to the civil war in sight, a Canadian institution is due to present an exhibition documenting 5,000 years of Syrian heritage.
Syria: a Living History, which opens this month, includes around 50 objects ranging from Mesopotamian artefacts to paintings by contemporary artists, which together reflect the continuity of artistic traditions.
“Syria was one of those topics that we just had to do,” says the museum’s director, Henry Kim, stressing that the war makes the show especially necessary. The exhibition fits the mission of the Aga Khan Museum, which opened in Toronto in 2014. “We’re here to give people a better overview of the arts and culture of the Muslim world,” he says.
DUENDE FLAMENCO FESTIVAL Two Views of the Alhambra
The Aga Khan Museum presents its second year of flamenco programming! This three-day festival celebrates the multi-disciplinary nature of flamenco, influenced by different cultures and forms, and its continually evolving modes of expression. With a focus on Granada, this year’s festival is programmed to compliment the special exhibition Álvaro Siza: Gateway to the Alhambra.
Learn the basics of flamenco art with Torito Media’s Justine Bayod Espoz, guitarist Pablo Giménez, and dancer/choreographer Sara Jiménez Andrés! Featuring music and dance with roots in Granada, this performance draws on the city of inspiration and plurality to showcase the power and momentum of flamenco.
Learn about more performances in this series:
Saturday, October 15, 8 pm
From Granada to the Generalife Palace
Sunday, October 16, 6 pm
Aga Khan Museum Flamenco Festival highlights the concept of ‘duende’
Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum is presenting its second Flamenco Festival this weekend and it’s aptly named Duende.
Duende is a concept that’s hard to pin down. Typically associated with soulfulness or presence, the term suggests a powerful essence that some performers exude naturally, and others can never fake.
For playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca, duende is what distinguishes a true artist from an imposter. In his 1933 lecture on the subject (which, in typical Lorca-style, alternates between the poetic and the hysterical), he describes a dark, earthy force that operates independently of skill. According to Lorca, duende works best when channelled through a live, performing body. And so his favourite examples of the mysterious power are the flamenco singers and dancers of his home province of Andalusia, artists who perform with a moribund intensity that hurts to deliver and might hurt as much to watch.
The festival is one of two Andalusian-themed events currently running at the museum; the other is an exhibition on the architect Alvaro Siza’s design for the Alhambra Palace in Granada. Anyone who has visited the ninth-century UNESCO World Heritage Site won’t be surprised by this confluence of Spanish dance and Moorish architecture. Opposite the palace’s courtyards and sun-dappled gardens, the winding streets are dotted with countless flamenco lairs and caves. In fact, Andalusia might be best known for two things: its beautifully preserved Islamic buildings and its impassioned tradition of music and dance.
For Amir Ali Alibhai, head of Performing Arts at Aga Khan, the Flamenco Festival is ideal for showcasing the many tangents that extend from Muslim history and culture.
“People often forget that the Iberian Peninsula was one time part of the al-Andalus dynasty,” Alibhai says. “In flamenco music, you can hear Arabic, Sephardic and Gypsy influences – the Gypsies, of course, being nomadic and originating in India. For me flamenco is a fascinating, multidisciplinary form because it involves singing, music and dance – in a way, it’s like opera, very dramatic.”
Planning Duende, curator Justine Bayod Espoz wanted to give Toronto audiences a sense of the range and diversity in the contemporary flamenco scene. “There’s a clichéd notion outside of Spain that flamenco is limited to big skirts, a lot of stomping, excess passion. What that says to me is that people are seeing it and enjoying it, but aren’t really understanding a whole lot of what’s going on.”
So, over the course of the three-night festival (Oct. 14 to 16), Espoz has programmed work that showcases three key categories of flamenco: classical, traditional and contemporary. On Friday, the classical side of the spectrum – a form heavily influenced by other kinds of Spanish dance – will be brought to life by guitarist Pablo Gimenez and dancer Sara Jimenez, both from Granada. Jimenez will perform partly with castanets, which, contrary to popular belief, is a departure from traditional flamenco, connected instead to the folk style Sevillanas.
On Sunday, those interested in a purer approach to traditional flamenco music can hear the voice of one of Spain’s rising stars, Alfredo Tejada. “His career is completely blossoming,” Espoz says, citing the numerous renowned dancers he regularly accompanies and the recent release of his first solo album, Directo, which was acclaimed by flamenco critics.
But Espoz speaks most excitedly about the Saturday program, an evening of contemporary flamenco featuring a young innovator from Madrid called Cristian Perez. Perez will be performing a double-bill called Mi Flamenco, which looks at flamenco through the lens of a millennial artist, tinted with irony and humour. Espoz describes him as radically creative.
“He’s won just about every award you can win,” she adds. “He’s always stood out to me, with all the charisma and personality necessary to draw people’s eye on stage. And then he isn’t afraid to be comedic.”
All performances will take place in the museum’s 350-seat auditorium, which has a geometrically subdivided muqarnas dome, a feature common to Persian and Arabic architecture. It’s a theatre where Alibhai hopes to continue to program diverse performances that stretch the public’s idea of the reaches of Islamic culture.
“I think of the theatre as a giant musical instrument,” he says, gesturing to the long, harmonious lines of polished teak wood. “There isn’t a bad seat in the house. It’s design is so unique.”
This 12-foot-tall Syrian mural travelled 10,000 kilometres to get to the Aga Khan Museum
This Saturday, the Aga Khan Museum unveils its newest exhibition, Syria: A Living History, a collection of art and artifacts from across the globe that stretches 5,000 years into the country’s past. As one of the first major international art shows to focus exclusively on Syria, it offers Canadian audiences first looks at paintings, sculptures and objects from private collections and major institutions like the Louvre and Met. One of the show’s highlights is Deluge: The Gods Abandon Palmyra, a 12-foot-tall mural by contemporary Syrian artist Elias Zayat that arrived in a crate from Syria last week. We shadowed the team in charge of its installation to find out what went into getting the piece out of the box and onto the wall.
Aga Khan Museum exhibit explores Syria's diverse cultures
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 1:19PM EDT
Last updated Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 1:19PM EDT
The West tends to see modern-day Syria through a dark prism – a land of unending violence and hopelessness, of human and architectural destruction, of sectarian bloodletting and desperate refugees, a site of U.S. passivity and Russian interventionism, a country where names of cities such as Aleppo and Homs have become synonyms for suffering.
There is another Syria, however. An alternate or parallel Syria, if you will, spanning millenniums, encompassing diverse yet interconnected cultures, peoples, religions and languages. Ancient interconnections that speak of continuities and continuations and resiliences perceptible, perhaps, in the quiet moments between explosions, the cries of the wounded, the scream of a jet-bomber, the whoosh of an Islamic State executioner’s sword.
Heritage and Conflict: Syria’s Battle to Save Its Past
Sunday, October 16, 2 pm
How has Syria’s exceptional architecture weathered the 21st century? Professor Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria's Director-General of Antiquities and Museums, delivers our second Annual Lecture.
Exploring the very concept of Syria as a country through its beautiful past, at Toronto’s Aga Khan
If the current state of the Middle East isn’t enough to shake your faith in humanity, consider its status as our longest continuous experiment in civilization. In the Fertile Crescent, humans have been living together in large groups since before we were even technically capable of recording our history. That the result of this is a desert punctuated by cities that are regularly burning is not the highest recommendation for the whole human project.
The saving grace here is that such a view is rather limited, even if it is the one with which we’re typically presented through our media and entertainment. The Aga Khan Museum is hoping to bring a much wider – and, it should be said, more hopeful – perspective to the fore with its new exhibit, plainly and pointedly titled Syria.
“Despite the carnage of today, this is a country that has 18 religions: three of which are only in Syria; two of which cannot be classified as Abrahamic. They are older ideas. They’ve been tolerated there this whole time,” explains Nasser Rabbat, director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT and co-curator of the new exhibit. “This is a country that is heterogenous culturally – not just ethnically or religiously, as people would now blame it to be. It’s actually a country that has somehow invented the notion of multiculturalism, and lived with it for a very long time
At the Aga Khan, the living history of Syria, but for how much longer?
Museum reminds us of the storied history of Syria and offers a morsel of hope for the devastated country's future.
Syria, anyone can tell you, is in tatters, a complex fabric of peoples and cultures torn open at the seams. Since the civil war began in 2011, almost half a million people have died, according to the Syrian Centre for Policy Research, an independent non-profit policy group.
Earlier this year, the United Nations estimated that some 13.5 million Syrians were in need of humanitarian aid within the tangled disaster of the country itself, with another 5 million now roaming the far corners of the globe as refugees. Nothing about the conflict seems to suggest it getting better: with near-intractable pockets of ISIS and wounds opened all over the country by ongoing clashes between various rebel factions and the Syrian government — or, increasingly, its Russian allies — the divisions grow deeper by the day.
What kind of backdrop all this makes for an exhibition of Syrian art and antiquities back here on safer ground is a hard question, but it’s one from which the Aga Khan Museum, to its credit, hasn’t shrunk. When the museum opened its doors here in 2014, it made its mission clear: to put on view the best, most broad-minded and inclusive face of Islamic culture, buttressed by the remarkable collection of Islamic art bestowed by its patron, the Aga Khan.
Syria: A Living History’ Review: More Than a Land of Conflict
A poignant show reminds visitors what humans are capable of—at their best and worst.
Oct. 17, 2016 3:46 p.m. ET
The Aga Khan Museum brings a note of coherence and serenity to the high-tech industrial neighborhood where its campus sits, a kind of aesthetic balm to the highways and high-rises nearby. With its rectangular pools fronting the pleasingly geometric main building on a hilltop plateau, you get a distinctly optimistic sense of order redeemed from bleakness. The museum’s mission, you might say, is to do the same for the Islamic world by reminding us of past and continuing cultural glories, not least through an exquisite permanent collection of miniatures, ceramics, textiles, calligraphy and the like.
Aga Khan Museum in Canada hosts exhibition entitled ‘Syria is a Live History’
Director-General of Antiquities and Museums Dr. Maamoun Abdulkarim has given a lecture about Syrian heritage during the opening ceremony of an exhibition opened on October 15th in Toronto in Canada under the title “Syria is a Live History”.
He focused on the Syria heritage damaged during the foreign-backed terror war being waged on Syria and the measures adopted by the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) to protect historic sites in cooperation with civil community.
His lecture entitled ‘Heritage and Conflict…Syria’s battle to defend its past’ underscored the importance of international cooperation with the DGAM to save the Syrian heritage, which reflects Syrians’ identity and memory, according to the DGAM website.
The website quoted Mr. Luis Monreal, Director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, as saying that the trust stands by the DGAM and it is ready to offer all forms of support, especially in rehabilitating the Palmyra Museum and building a new museum in the future.
He referred to the extraordinary efforts exerted by the DGAM to protect the Syrian heritage during the crisis.
On her part, Director General of UNESCO Mrs. Irina Bokova stressed in a recorded speech that UNESCO supports the DGAM in Syria to save the Syrian heritage.
Around 48 art works are being displayed in the exhibition which will last till February 26th 2017 in the Aga Khan Museum.
Syria’s Art and Architecture: A Multicultural History
Saturday, October 29, 9:30 am–4 pm and Sunday, October 30, 10 am–12 pm
SYMPOSIUM Syria’s Art and Architecture: A Multicultural History, October 29–October 30
Syria has been home to some of the great world civilizations over many millennia. The art and architecture of Syria reveal the richness of its multicultural heritage and the diversity of its artistic production.
Join Dr. Ruba Kana’an (Aga Khan Museum) and Professor Nasser Rabbat (MIT) for a weekend of exciting talks that take you on a journey through the most iconic arts and monuments of Syria.
Ten international experts give illustrated presentations on their recent research covering Syria’s long history from ancient times to the classical and Islamic periods. For the full program, paper abstracts, and bios, see the links below.
Co-organized with Professor Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, MIT.
The challenges of protecting Syrian heritage in crisis
Experts probe Mideast history in new exhibition at the Aga Khan
by Fran Schechter
November 16, 2016
SYRIA: A LIVING HISTORY, at the Aga Khan Museum (77 Wynford), to February 26. $20, stu/srs $15, free Wednesday 4-8 pm. 416-646-4677. Rating: NNNN See listing.
Syria: A Living History is not all about archaeology. Artifacts and artworks in the Aga Khan Museum show range from a 5,000-year-old stone eye idol to medieval Damascene metalwork and contemporary artists' takes on the current civil war.
But in light of the war's toll on temples and artifacts, I'm interested in how Henry Kim, the AKM director and a classical archaeologist, and Clemens Reichel, a U of T archaeology prof and ROM curator who facilitated its many loans to the Syria exhibit, view preserving the past in the current crisis.
Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum Offers Free Admission to Syrian Newcomers
Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum is offering free admission to all Syrian newcomers during the run of their exhibition “Syria: A Living History,” which opens today and closes on February 26, 2017.
Director and CEO Henry Kim said, “We want to welcome all Syrian newcomers to this country, and to ensure that they and their host families have the opportunity to join in our celebration of the diversity and history of Syria. Making art accessible to all has always been a key part of our mandate and this outreach program is no exception. We want Syrians to realize the value we place in their arrival in this country, and to understand that they are a vital part of the cultural mosaic of Canada.”
The show features historical artifacts from a number of collections, both public and private, and expands upon the contributions various cultures—Greek, Roman, Hittite, Sumerian, Persian, Ottoman, Arab, and Byzantine—have made to Syria and throughout the world.
The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, which is dedicated to presenting an overview of the artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage, first opened its doors in September of 2014. The Museum’s Permanent Collection of over 1,000 objects includes masterpieces that reflect a broad range of artistic styles and materials. These portraits, textiles, miniatures, manuscripts, ceramics, tiles, medical texts, books and musical instruments represent more than ten centuries of human history and a geographic area stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to China. Designed by architect Fumihiko Maki, the Museum shares a 6.8-hectare (17-acre) site with Toronto’s Ismaili Centre, which was designed by architect Charles Correa. The surrounding landscaped park, designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic, serves as an enticing green escape within the city. For details, visit agakhanmuseum.org.
Canada is using art to build bridges with Syrian refugees, while the rest of the world builds walls to keep them out
Canada has welcomed more than 35,000 Syrians since last year, in stark contrast to other countries that are sealing their borders in response to the refugee crisis. To help them integrate, the country is turning to art—a critical part of Syria’s history and culture.
Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum, an institution that promotes Islamic heritage, recently invited a group of Syrian refugees to view a new exhibition tracing more than 5,000 years of art from their homeland. Called “Syria: A Living History,” the show is the first major art exhibition in the West on the region since the war erupted in 2011. While museums can take as long as two to three years to plan a show, Aga Khan Museum CEO and director Henry Kim says the project was fast-tracked, with 48 works gathered from seven international museums in 9 months. “We decided to do it under fairly short notice, because the story had to be told now. It couldn’t wait,” says Kim.
Aga Khan Museum’s show is one of many initiatives across Canada using art to communicate with Syrians and help them ease into life in a new country. The governmental Canada Council for the Arts, for example, has dedicated CAD $300,000 ($226,000), with the support of a private sponsor, to providing Syrian refugees with free access to more than 60 art spaces, theater and music performances.
Syria’s Murderous Struggle, and Multicultural Peace
After years of civil war, and with one of its most venerable cities, Aleppo, under threat of obliteration, Syria is for many little more than a 21st-century nightmare, its glorious past lost and forgotten. The exhibition “Syria: A Living History,” at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, is here to remind us of that past. The show features just 48 objects, but it encompasses centuries, and much of the work is choice. The earliest piece, a stone sculpture that looks abstract except for two pairs of staring eyes, dates from around 3200 B.C. An exquisitely carved ivory lion’s head from the eighth or ninth century B.C. has roots in Near Eastern visual traditions shared with Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Christian, Jewish and Islamic influences also came into play and mingled. Throughout all of this, there were periods of murderous struggle. More remarkable, there were even longer stretches of multicultural peace. By closing with contemporary Syrian works, the show suggests that, against all present evidence, there could be peace again. (Through Feb. 26.)
Contemporary Iranian artists have used power, humour, mysticism, and poetry to both openly and subversively critique subjects such as gender, politics, war, religion, and spirituality. Whether in Iran or in the diaspora, the artists’ narratives have been informed by conditions triggered by the 1979 Revolution and by the pressures in the larger world. While some of the works in Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians reflect the socio-political tensions of the past twenty-five years, others transcend them to create all-embracing spaces free of strife. Mostly iconic, the twenty-seven works by twenty-three artists are conceptualized in a variety of mediums, from painting and sculpture to photography and video installation.
The personal journeys of new Canadians done through visual narratives are on display at the Aga Khan Museum
For Siam Islam from Bangladesh, it was a big yellow suitcase in an empty bedroom in a house made of wooden poles. Waiting to leave.
For Reham Ibrahim, it was a delicate wire bicycle in a Saudi Arabian courtyard along with a game she used to play with her younger brother.
For Sinados Teklehaymanot, whose family is from Eritrea, it was the thought of her grandmother’s cosy big bed where she slept for most of her early childhood.
For Khadija Farooq, there was a duality — a split level structure representing a Pakistani home on the first floor, complete with a basket of oranges and a view of a family’s orange farm; and upstairs a Canadian home featuring a comfy couch and bookshelf stocked with a teenager’s favourites reads. Twilight series anyone?
And for Razmik Nalbandian, an Armenian who came here 10 months ago from Lebanon, it was, of all things, a man’s ballroom dancing shoe. An avid ballroom dancer, he said, in a world “full of anger and sadness,” dancing was when he felt most at home and “most alive.”
Ask a teenager from an immigrant or refugee family to depict, artistically, the meaning of “home” and you get all of the above vividly detailed answers and many more, now on display in a hallway at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum at 77 Wynford Dr.
‘Aga Khan Museum has a strong interest in Pakistan’
ISLAMABAD: A presentation to introduce the world famous Aga Khan Museum in Toronto was held on Saturday.
The museum is the first of its kind of North America, dedicated to the arts of Islamic civilisations, and an audience of some 300 art enthusiasts attended the event.
The presentation was delivered by Henry S. Kim, the director and CEO of the museum – an initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture - at the Serena Hotel.
Aziz Boolani, the CEO of Serena Hotels, said: “The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto [has] given a space to Pakistani artists. Pakistan art and artists have regularly found space at the museum, beginning with one of the earliest temporary exhibitions, The Garden of Ideas: Contemporary Art from Pakistan, which featured the work of six internationally acclaimed Pakistan artists: Bani Abidi, Nurjahan Akhlaq, David Chalmers Alesworth, Aisha Khalid, Atif Khan, and Imran Qureshi.
“I have also discussed with Henry the possibilities of taking more Pakistani artists to the museum to provide them access to an international audience.”
Mr Kim who joined the museum in 2012 around two years before the opening, gave a brief presentation on its vision.
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